ChapterPDF Available

Political mobilization of palestinians in Israel: The al-'Ard movement



During the rise in Arab nationalist mobilization in the 1950s throughout the Arab world, al-'Ard was established in Israel parallel to these movements but with a unique combination of nationalist pan-Arab ideology tailored to the special situation of Palestinians in Israel. While its ideology was pan-Arab, its activities and demands focused on issues that were most urgent to Palestinians, such as the right of return, and on issues specific to Palestinians within Israel, including the cessation of the military government and of land confiscation, and the extension of social and economic rights. In my discussion of al-'Ard, I attend to the agency of Palestinian citizens who resisted Israeli dominance in various and innovative ways; they presented a challenge to Israeli claims of democracy by asserting their rights to negotiate their status as part of the new state and as part of their history. These attempts faced profound Israeli repression and an extensive system that the Israeli government utilized to maintain its control over the Palestinians. This repression and control were part of the Israeli rejection of Palestinian political rights as a national minority and as citizens of the state. It is also an expression of the Israeli policy that clearly viewed Palestinian rights as limited by the existing definition of the state as Jewish. Any attempt to challenge this definition led the state to combat it, asserting that it was acting as a "defensive democracy" in repressing Palestinian political mobilization. When al-'Ard started as a political movement, the Israeli government was still in the zenith of its use of military repression against the Arab minority that stayed within the state in order to assure they would remain a marginalized minority that would not interfere with the Zionist program to build the "Jewish state" in Palestine. The international situation, the tension with Egypt and the Arab world, and the fresh memories of the 1948 and 1956 wars did not allow any space for Palestinian discourse within Israeli society to be voiced. The Israeli-Jewish public, told that its very existence was still endangered, was all too ready to accept governmental policies toward and representations of the Palestinian minority, including the claim that al-'Ard was an agent of the Arab world set to destroy the state. In this tense context, al-'Ard's leaders expressed their ideas in a direct, uncompromising manner and were influenced by statements of Nasser and the nationalist discourse in the Arab world that they often repeated. This contributed to alienating the movement from the Israeli public, which viewed it as a threat. It also isolated al-'Ard from big segments of the Palestinian community who lived under the repressive mechanisms of military rule and witnessed the suppressive measures used against the movement. This isolation aided the government in its determination to break it. Al-'Ard members were harassed and the movement was restricted and eventually banned. It was not allowed to practice political freedom in a democratic way and could not compete to win the support of public opinion for the ideas it represented. Although many of the positions and struggles that al-'Ard assumed at the time already existed within the Israeli Communist Party, the latter was tolerated more due to the CPI's joint Arab-Jewish nature, and to the greater caution that its activists exercised in expressing their positions. By 1965, al-'Ard was banned and all its activities were terminated. Edward Said asserts that it was the first resurgence of Palestinian national consciousness after 1948 (Said and Barsamian, 1994: 24). Its members maintain that the movement's political impact and inspiration remained (Qahwaji, 1978: 66). They claim that they raised and strengthened national awareness, organized national activism, exposed oppressive Israeli policies, and led to a greater involvement of Communist activists in the nationalist movement (Qahwaji, 1972: 474). They also maintain that they developed a young leadership who were pioneers in the struggle for Arabs' rights in Israel thereafter (Amun et al. 1981: 27). They contend that the founding of al-'Ard led to an ideological continuation in nationalist Palestinian groups and parties that developed later, including Abna' al-Balad (Sons of the Village) and al-Tajamu' al-Watani al-Dimuqrati (National Democratic Assembly) (interviews, Me'ari and Jiryis, 2005). However, although both of these movements espoused an ideology similar to al-'Ard, they developed in different historical contexts and played different roles, especially after the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. At the same time, it could be argued that the oppressive measures that were taken against al-'Ard deterred others from trying to establish other political parties and from being active within the Palestinian community in Israel. It took almost twenty years until another independent party, the Socialist List led by Muhammad Me'ari, was established. However, during that time, there was no lack of Palestinian community activities, as the CPI gained strength as the main oppositional voice of the community. It is hard to determine, after the fact, what the long-term impact of al-'Ard was. In particular, it is difficult to assess the extent of the support it achieved; furthermore, the support it could have achieved had it not been suppressed is hard to verify. The openly pan-Arab nationalist discourse it used helped make it part of the wider Palestinian discourse outside Israel. Yet, even members of the movement itself were obliged to take further precautions in their future political activities or leave the country altogether. What is clear from exploring the history of al-'Ard is that Palestinians within Israel found various ways and utilized different spaces in order to resist Israeli hegemonic and exclusionary policies and assert their identity.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... Meanwhile, the Al-Ard movement that emerged after 1960 was Palestinian-patriotic, pan-Arab nationalist and pro-Arab socialist (Dallasheh, 2010). It attracted those Palestinians who had accepted the existence of the State of Israel only as a fact, rather than upholding the legitimacy of the Jewish State which was legally conceived by the UN in 1947 and accepted formally as a Member in 1949. ...
... However, its attempts to field a list for the 1965 Knesset elections were blocked (Rouhana & Sabbagh-Khoury, 2015, p. 7). Although Al-Ard did not use or advocate violence against the State, it was harassed by security agencies and effectively prevented from functioning publicly (Dallasheh, 2010). ...
Full-text available
What impact did the Oslo Accords have on the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel? With no avenue for expressing their views inside Israel, and with no recognition in Oslo, the minority responded by reconceptualizing its politics, campaigning for equal rights as a national indigenous minority. Oslo has led to a dual process: it has accelerated the ‘localization’ of their struggle, focusing on minority rights and justice within Israel—while simultaneously openly supporting the wider Palestinian struggle for national rights and self-determination and a two-state solution. As a reaction to the Oslo Accords, there has also been a ‘localization’ of Arab citizens’ voting patterns in favour of Arab parties, such as the Joint List, rather than the Zionist parties.
... A year later, al-Ard members sought to run in the Knesset elections through an independent Arab list called the 'Socialist List,' but the Israeli Central Elections Committee disqualified it on the grounds that the list exploited Israeli democracy to undermine the state's foundations. That was the only initiative by the Nationalist stream to organize parliamentary activity during the period under discussion (Dallasheh 2010). ...
... Robinson's (2013, p. 8) research 'weaves a far messier tale than other works that have characterized the period of military rule as a more or less orderly programme of displacement, exclusion, and repression', and he argues that Palestinians navigated the paradoxical status of being both citizens and subjects of a colonial state. Dallasheh challenges the resistance/collaboration dichotomy and argues that Palestinians within Israel maintained their identity and negotiated their civil and political rights (Dallasheh, 2010;Dallasheh, 2015). Examining the writings of the Palestinians in Israel during the military rule period, especially poetry and the role of culture, Nassar (2017, p. 3) locates 'their resistance against the state policies and the Zionist logic that underpinned them, within the larger context of Palestinian, Arab and international struggles for decolonization'. ...
Full-text available
Research about Palestinians in Israel during the period of military rule from 1948 to 1966 describes them as acquiescent and primarily focuses on the mechanisms of control imposed by Israel. This article examines the role played by improvised sung poetry in Palestinian weddings and social gatherings during this period, and it assesses the contribution that this situated art form made to asserting this community’s agency. Ḥaddā’ (male) and Badāaʿa (female) poet-singers are considered as agents of cultural resilience, songs as tools and weddings as sites of resilience and resistance for Palestinians who lived under Israeli military rule. Folk poetry performed by Ḥaddā’ and Badāaʿa is identified as a form of cultural resilience and resistance rooted in Palestinians’ cultural heritage. The data signal the persistence of resilience, dignity and rootedness in the land and identity, as well as demonstrating the risks of such resilience and of resistance actions.
... and attempted to run for the Knesset in 1965. Within those five years, members of Al-Ard appealed to the Supreme Court six times (Dallasheh, 2010). ...
Full-text available
The Palestinians in Israel: Reading in History Politics and Society. Vol 2
... Another goal has been to "educate" Israeli Palestinians about the limits of the legitimate political discourse and to punish political activists (Cohen 2010, p. 235). The mechanisms of controlling political activities among Israeli Palestinians were put in place in the period from 1948 to 1966, during which military governors were responsible for issuing travel permits for everyday activities such as visiting a relative, for recruiting informers whose task was to collect information about their fellow Palestinians, and for punishing nationalist individuals and movements among them (Cohen 2010;Dallasheh 2010;Korn 2000a, b;Lustick 1980;Sa'di 2003). While military rule was abolished in 1966, Israeli authorities have continued to treat Palestinians as a "dangerous" population using various surveillance methods including the "traditional" recruitment of informers and the use of new technological devises (Zureik 2011). ...
Full-text available
Drawing on Bourdieu’s theory of habitus and incorporating insights from feminist and critical race and legal scholarship on the creation of “subjugated knowledge,” this article investigates the dispositional production of perceptions of injustice, politics, and morality among differently situated members of a subordinated population. Based on ethnographic fieldwork within and across the West Bank and the Israeli city of Lod, I track how the political rhetoric that Lod Palestinians use to describe key issues in their lives—for example, drug use and dealing, and poor formal education—differs from the moral judgments through which West Bank Palestinians, who have moved to the city and remain there precariously, interpret the same issues. This article traces this interpretive divergence to two dispositional formations: one that has emerged under protracted conditions of denigration, criminalization, and surveillance in Lod and the other that has been produced over time by military rule in the West Bank and imported to Lod by West Bank Palestinians who moved there. It concludes by calling attention to the role of dispositions in studies of identity-formation and boundary-work as well as issues of submission and resistance in contexts of subordination.
Criminal Appeal 228/60, Qahwaji and others v. The Legal Adv~er
I!. Criminal Appeal 228/60, Qahwaji and others v. The Legal Adv~er, PD 14, 1929 (hereafter, Qahwaji case).
241/60 Kardosh v. The Companies Registrar, 15, lI51 (hereafter, Kardosh case) and HC] 16/61 The Companies Registrar v
  • High Court
  • Justice
High Court of Justice (HC]) 241/60 Kardosh v. The Companies Registrar, 15, lI51 (hereafter, Kardosh case) and HC] 16/61 The Companies Registrar v. PD 16, 1209. 13. Ibid., 1220.
Draft of the Tzofin Telegram
ISA G 6337/1653/3, "Draft of the Tzofin Telegram," undated. As brought in Bauml (2001, 255).